Chapter 6 “Hope”
“Ouch!” Aiden yelled.
“You hesitated. Start again.” Uryu commanded.
Aiden took his stance again. Uryu continued to thrust a whip at Aiden. Aiden deflected several lashes until he missed. A lash grazed him on his cheek.
“Stop your whining.” Uryu laughed.
“Why are we doing this?” Aiden asked.
“Well, I know you have your basics down as a child of Amar. You’ve been trained in very foundational skills. But it’s time to evolve.” Uryu explained.
“Why a whip?”
“If you can see a whip. You can see a great big sword or gauntlet coming at you. Even more so, a magical spell designed to be swift and cunning.”
Aiden glanced down at the marks left by the lashing. But his resolve grew steady. He raised his head and looked at Uryu.
“Again.” Aiden requested.
The training continued for several days. Elana spent that time cleaning her clothes, gathering wood and food for them and witnessing Aiden’s training. Amidst it all she constantly thought of Allen and was still grief stricken over his death. Every night she would shed a lonely tear for him. Aiden decided to join Elana by the campfire this night.
“Does it get better?” Aiden asked.
“I’ve been told. But I’ve never lost someone before. I’m hoping it does.”
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.” Aiden sulked.
“Allen believed in you.” Elana fiddles with fire around her fingers. “I always knew his convictions would get him killed.”
“I will avenge him.”
Elana laughed, “You’re too young to be taking up causes for vengeance.”
Aiden grinned, “I’m also too young to be a wanted fugitive, or the ever bearer of the all crystal.”
“True.” Elana confirmed.
“I wonder what my father plans to do with those experiments.”
“Judging from the battle the other day, I’m assuming he is modifying his most loyal soldiers to hold dominion over the aspects.”
“But doesn’t it take time and training to master it?”
“Of course. But you still get a small measure of its abilities.”
Grandmaster Uryu stepped out of the hut and joined them by the campfire to roast a jerky. He nodded at Elana and Aiden.
“Master, what aspect did you choose?”
Uryu looked up, “Oh…”
Elana put his hand on Aiden’s shoulder, “Master Uryu is no Amaranth.”
“What?!” Aiden shouted. “How did you train Allen?”
Elana laughed a bit, “Master Uryu possesses the skills of someone with innate agility.”
“Innate agility?” Aiden continued his interrogation.
Uryu interjected, “My people before they were annihilated…were born with innate abilities. I was born with a natural swiftness. I was nowhere near as fast as Allen during his convergence with Agility. When I found Allen he was laying in his own blood after a training session had gone wrong. I taught him how to understand speed. He wanted me to teach him.”
Uryu continued, “Receiving the gift, is quite different from being born with it. It is instilled into your senses. You have to understand the forces of nature you are contending with are vast. Life is a balancing act. To master speed, you must understand the equal and opposing natures with which you are imposing said speed. The atmosphere, the ground, the wind, any force of nature that must bend in order for you to assert your own force must be harnessed.”
Aiden raises his hand to his head, “I don’t get any of this!”
Uryu laughed, “I’m sorry – I got carried away.”
“Long story short, Master Uryu understands the gift. And didn’t teach Allen speed. He taught him how to understand it.” Elana explained.
Aiden’s eyes widened, “That’s why he was so fast…”
“I also taught him how to use his sword properly, the idiot.” Uryu confessed. “As I’m teaching you currently. If you did not know your weapons were also born from the same phenomena which grants you your powers. Understanding them is another story.”
“I bet…” Aiden grew restless.
“Tomorrow we continue your training. I will have you completely avoid the whip. You will understand the shift of the air around you. Once you do, you will see almost any attack that comes your way.” Uryu declared.
“Any attack…? Allen could’ve used that.” Aiden quipped.
“If Allen fell in battle, it was because the forces of nature surrounding his circumstances were a greater force than he alone could contend with. Remember, you may see the attack coming but it’s up to you to compel your body to evade it. You can only do so much on your own. I’m guessing he had several extremely powerful individuals bearing down on him all at once.”
“Yes…” Aiden confirmed.
Elana added, “It was an Arms Commander, a Blade, and a Mage.”
“It seems like it was insurmountable odds.” Uryu proclaimed.
“Weren’t we going to consign the help of Crueg?” Aiden asked.
“Not until you have mastered your training. The King of Crueg won’t be privy to being asked for help by a child. We want to appeal to his militaristic side. Offer him conquest.” Elana explained.
“I see. You seek the King of Crueg’s help in all of this.” Uryu ponders.
“There’s only one way out of this I’m afraid. It’s the fall of Amar. The fall of Garroltis.”
“I’m not opposed to it Elana. But if its war-”
Aiden interrupts, “I’ll be ready.”
His fist slams down on his throne with great force. Garroltis stands up and starts to pace back and forth with an eager look on his face.
“It’s been months! What is taking so long?!” Garroltis shouts.
“I’m sorry Mine King…we’ve run into some trouble.” Friede announces.
“It seems we cannot get the all crystal to take a new host.”
“What do you mean?”
“It is rejecting everything we’re throwing at it.”
“Then force it to take me!”
“We don’t know of the consequences mine king! If it rejects you, you could-”
“I am no mere man, Friede! Do it now.”
Friede leaves the throne room in a hurry. Silvia grabs Garroltis’ hand and tries to assuage his concerns.
“Dear, we shouldn’t be too hasty.”
“Quiet quim.” Garroltis lashes back.
“If we force the all crystal to take a host, there may be dire consequences. We don’t understa-”
Garroltis throws his hand into Silvia’s face. She falls down the steppes and looks back at Garroltis with worried eyes.
“Leave me!” Garroltis yells.
Silvia struggles to get up and leaves the throne room. Garroltis sits down and picks up his whine and continues to ponder by himself.
“Aiden.” Garroltis grasps the end of his throne’s armrest and grows in anger.
“I will find you and make sure you are ended!”
Garroltis walks into Friede’s apothecary and scans all of the concoctions of Friede’s and walks up to Friede.
“Where are we with the assimilation?”
“I don’t know, Mine King…” Friede hesitated, “but as you said we shall move forward regardless.”
“Good. You are learning.”
Friede picks up a corked vial as he leads Garroltis to the Crystalline Halls. He summons Amaranthine and grabs the crystal into his hand.
“Drink this, Mine King.”
Garroltis chugs the concoction down. Friede takes the all crystal and places it on Garroltis’ chest.
“Do not move.” Friede explained.
The all crystal begins to glow and react to the presence of a host. Garroltis begins to emanate with a cooling aura. Suddenly the all crystal and his body begin to fuse together as if his body is absorbing the crystal itself. Friede notices a fragment of the crystal missing.
“What the-?” Friede thinks of himself.
The all crystal is fully absorbed by Garroltis as his body begins to emanate a heated aura and he begins to shiver and cry in joy. Garroltis’ cries turn into laughter,
“This is incredible!” Garroltis scans his body, “I’m coursing with energy!”
Friede has a worried look on his face. Garroltis’ body begins to shift into a red and black aura. He begins to cough as he grasps his neck.
“What’s happening?!” Garroltis asks.
“Mine King!” Friede panics.
After several moments, Garroltis rises from the ground shrouded by a black aura around his face.
“Excellent.” Garroltis says unbothered.
“Mine King?” Friede asks.
“I’m fine.” Garroltis walks out of the Crystalline Hall.
“I don’t understand. His assimilation failed. He should be dead.” Friede thought.
In the Royal Guard chambers Silvia is nursing a wound to her face as Balin and Viktor both enter. They notice Silvia’s posture and confront her. Balin takes her face in his hand and scans the wound.
“What did you do now?” Balin questions.
“You know that won’t work with us anymore?” Viktor asserts.
“Garroltis plans to force the all crystal to assimilate with him.” Silvia reveals.
“We cannot stop the King. If it is his desire.”
“Balin, according to lore whenever Amaranthine rejects an ever bearer, it eats away at the host’s soul until it is released.” Viktor recalls. “If we let the King do this, he might-”
“Die?” Balin grins. “And?”
“For starters, none of us are an Elderborn! Regent powers fall to the Arbiter and I won’t let this kingdom fall into the hands of Humber.”
Garroltis walks into the room. The aura around him has changed. His face shrouded in a mysterious dark veil. He turns to Balin,
“I once thought your loyalty was unmatched Balin.”
Balin assumes proper posture, “Mine King, you have my undying loyalty-”
“Fool…” Garroltis interrupts. “Did you really think I did not know?”
Balin looks up, “Mine King-?”
Garroltis appears behind Balin suddenly and grabs his neck.
“This is the man that would have my throne, is it?”
Garroltis clenches his fist around Balin’s neck.
“M-Mine…K-K” Balin struggles.
Viktor interjects, “Mine King, please…show mercy!”
Garroltis looks at Viktor, “Mercy?” then back at Balin, “Granted.”
Garroltis breaks Balin’s neck and drops him to the floor like a ragdoll. He walks towards the door and fixes his mantle.
“Clean up this mess.” Garroltis exits.
Silvia and Viktor’s faces are still with shock and horror as they look at a lifeless body.
“Viktor-” Silvia murmurs.
“I know…he’s already assimilated.”
“What do we-”
“Nothing…we do as he says or we’ll end up like Balin or worse”
“I don’t think even Garroltis could have anticipated this.”
Viktor glances at Silvia, “We have to assume that that is no longer Garroltis.”
Back at the King’s chamber Garroltis sits at his dining table with a cup of wine in his hand as Friede enters.
“Friede…” Garroltis looks at his hand and scans it, “You’ve done wonders.”
“You honor me.”
“I can feel the power surging within me.”
“With the all crystal within you, you command all of the aspects at an increased affinity.”
“The Kingdom of Crueg will bow down to me!”
Garroltis’ face again becomes shrouded in a dark aura.
“Everyone will burn!” Garroltis announces.
“Mine King?” Friede was baffled, “I think the all crystal is affecting your min-”
“Nonsense Friede, I’ve never been thinking more clearly.” Garroltis picks up Barragus, “What’s 200,000 soldiers to my infinite power. King Crueg shall tremble before me.”
Friede bows out and does not dare to question Garroltis.
“Yes Mine King.”
“Put Arbiter Humber to task. Assemble the Royal Guard. I want Aiden and anyone who has helped him put to the ground and ended.”
“Yes Mine King.”
Over in a town called Palefoot. Grenn enters an inn and studies the room. He sits at the bar and signals the innkeeper. The innkeep approaches Grenn with a limp and glass in hand.
“Aye, sa” the innkeeper acknowledges Grenn.
“Anybody strange happen to pass by the last couple of days?”
The innkeeper while pouring responds, “Not really. It’s been slow.”
“Why do you ask sa?”
“I’m looking for someone.”
“Ar’n you all…” the innkeeper jests. “Wha’s an Amari doing all the way out here?”
“How did you-” Grenn looks around.
“Do’n worry…I’m not turning you in or noth’n. But you should do a better job of concealing your sigil. That there is a Blade Guard’s crest.”
“To hell…” Grenn shifts his cloak a bit to cover it.
“No’n here gives half a garule.”
“On’em lizards…you should know Amari.”
Grenn smirks, “You mean Garore.”
“What’s your name?” Grenn inquires.
“The name’s Igurd. Igurd Brimstill”
“So Igurd Brimstill. How does an innkeep out in the Crueg country know about a Blade Guard’s crest?”
“Seen on’em before.”
“I thought you said you hadn’t seen anybody recently.”
“You asked if I’d seen anybody strange.” innkeeper grins, “The man di’n seem strange to me. Asked for a bed, gave me coin and was off.”
“I missed him.” Grenn grimaces to himself.
“Listen, I do’n want to get into trouble if you’re after him.”
“No no…why do you say that?”
“Well he was in a bad way…I thought noth’n of it. I do’n usually get involved. I figured he would fix himself up.”
Grenn thinks to himself, “He would do that wouldn’t he…”
Igurd interrupts his thoughts, “Is he’n trouble?”
“Depends on your definition of the term.”
Igurd sighs, “trouble is trouble, sa”
“I suppose you’re right.”
Suddenly Grenn is hit in the back of the head by a stranger in a cloak and knocks him out cold. He comes to in a barn on a bed of hay. The stranger is hunched and limping as he feeds a fire with more wood. Grenn musters the strength to speak.
“What do you want?”
“Man of your cloth must be worth good money.” the cloaked man replies.
“Actually, not anymore.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the cloaked man gets angry.
“If you’re talking about my crest, I’m afraid it bears no value.”
“Why is that?”
“I’m a deserter. I left my post.”
The cloaked man changes his voice, “Good.” He removes the hood from over his head and reveals himself to Grenn.
“I had to make sure you weren’t here for me. I’m in no condition to fight.”
“I’m sorry. But lately all I’ve seen out of Amar have been warriors who fight with cold malice and merciless intent. I haven’t fully recovered yet.” Allen explained.
“What happened out there by the bluffs?”
“Prince Aiden and I were ambushed by Balin, Viktor and a couple of other guards.”
“It looked like a blood bath. I found your cloak.”
“Thank you Grenn.” Allen retrieved the cloak.
“They say you were in cahoots with Sentius. But I never believed it. So Prince Aiden is alive and well.”
“I have reason to believe that King Garroltis ordered his son ended. And he sent the Arm Guards to finish the job that day. I took the Prince and fled the country.”
“So, how did you survive the ambush? That was a lot of blood. Balin and Viktor announced your ending.”
“I don’t know exactly. One moment I was bleeding out. Then, I felt a surge of power come from Aiden. I reached out to him and my wound began to seal. I maintained the act to ensure that Viktor and Balin would assume I was dead.”
“Well…now that the whole kingdom believes you’re dead what’s your plan?”
“What do you mean?” Grenn asked.
“I need to refocus my mind. I need to commune with the winds.”
“How can I help?”
“You can’t.” Allen asked, “It’s something only I can do.”
“If we’re going to help Aiden reclaim the throne we’ll need everyone, including you.” Grenn appealed to Allen.
“You want to help Aiden regain the throne?”
“Garroltis is drunk on his desire for power. I have no doubt it will send the kingdom into a state of darkness.”
“Alright then.” Allen confirmed.
“Come with me. When I am fully recovered…I shall train you.”
The land has yielded. Those who remain in the Kingdom of Amar suffer, clouded by a perpetual darkness. The days no longer witness the rising of the sun. It is as if Amar had been abandoned, and left to ruin. Yet people still live within its borders.
Dust kicks up as a heel of a boot plants itself on the ground. A cape flows free in the air and dances in the wind revealing a young man, face covered by a half coif standing at the border of Amar. A familiar sword hunched on his back.
“It’s been awhile…” the man says.
A cloaked woman walks up beside him, “It has.”
“I can feel the cries of those who are suffering.” the man says.
“This place doesn’t feel the same.”
The man walks forward studying the ruins of the border town of Tyranis. He kneels down and picks up dirt from the ground and smells it.
“This place hasn’t seen life in months.”
The woman joins him, “We can only assume.”
Another cloaked man joins them and stares off into the distance, “He has assimilated the all crystal.”
The woman looks down to the cloaked young man, “What do you want to do?”
The young man removes the coif from his face and rises up revealing his face.
“Free my people…”
The woman smirks, “After you…mine Prince.”
The young man looks behind him to reveal an army ranking in the thousands. He signals them to move forward and then smiles at the woman.
“Let’s go Elana.”
Elana smiles back and looks to the other man, “Master Uryu?”
“Of course.” Uryu nods.
Aiden waves to the legion behind him, “Move out!”
Several years had passed since Aiden began his training. Now standing before the large army was a new man, given new resolve and renewed hope. He was no longer the small frightened child that Allen had rescued from a falling Kingdom. He was now the true ever bearer of Amaranthine. What had the years of training and solitude afforded Aiden? Was he ready to face the monster his father had become? Two pieces of Amaranthine slowly drawing closer together, pulled by the strings of fate – in an attempt to rejoin one another.